I have to admit that this was one of the sessions I was most excited about attending for a few reasons. First, is that I’ve heard Rand and Todd speak before and always walk away with new ideas and energy and couldn’t wait to hear what they’ve been working on. Second, we’ve been doing more and more SMO projects for clients and I know our team has been enjoying educating clients on the practice of SMO and becoming their own brand evangelists on social media and networking sites. This is fun stuff!
Todd Malicoat, SEM consultant started out the session by telling the audience to read one of my favorite books, “The Cluetrain Manifesto”. Read Anvil’s Cluetrain Manifesto Book Review. The premise of his recommendation is that Cluetrain was the first generation of SMO and link baiting. Todd’s first step when setting out to market to social media sites and networks is to think of the hook, which can be: attacks, humorous, contrarian views, news, resources, ego driven, or promoting new files like pictures or movies. Next step is to think about the title with the goals of getting votes, traffic, a rankings boost, new RSS subscribers, trust and mindshare. He actually recommends coming up with 10 titles based on the type of hook. Wow, that’s a lot of titles. But I guess practice makes perfect (just ask my piano teacher from grade school days – I didn’t practice and wasn’t perfect in any way). Some tips before launch day include: cache your content, host images on an alternated host, use a trusted account, be prepared to work your butt off for the 24 hour period since Digg has a limited window, don’t always submit to the same sites, and be prepared to beg for links – the new term for this is “Digg Begging”.
Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz gave an overview of the benefits of participating and creating profiles on social networking and media sites. Benefits include: reaching additional audiences outside primary group, controling and marketing your brand by participating in the conversation, managing your reputation, building links, driving traffic, and creating mindshare. He then gave a comprehensive run down of the most popular of sites, listed in order of most important in Rand’s mind: YouTube, StumbleUpon (which is the #2 traffic referral to SEOmoz’s site, even ahead of Google!), Wikipedia, Yahoo! Answers, Digg, Yelp (for local businesses), Reddit, LinkedIn, Flickr, Delicious, Facebook, MySpace (yep, ahead of Facebook!), Craig’s List (Best of List), Amazon, Technorati, Newsvine, Sphinn, CitySearch, Helium, Wikihow, SecondLife (bottom of the list for a reason: it’s a game and will never be that big. Rand mentioned how Coca Cola spent $200k to build a presence there and didn’t get much out of that besides “branding” which can’t really be measured), and Twitter.
Neil Patel, CTO of ACS was up next to talk about leveraging Digg and StumbleUpon. The first step is to participate by submitting stories and news well before you submit content on yourself or your clients, next is to befriend people and create a network of trusted friends who can then help you submit and vote on stories. Finally, know when to submit – don’t do it on the weekends or late evenings because your story won’t be seen by as many people as during the weekdays. So what not to do? Don’t outwardly promote yourself, add biased information, spam the sites, or break community rules. He also recommended against paying for votes. All things that Neil has admitted doing, but has gotten penalized and stories pulled. So once you’ve submitted how do you measure success? Neil recommended tracking the number of votes and also how quickly those votes come (maybe tracking every hour for a few days?). I would also recommend tracking number of comments left, and the tone of those comments (negative, positive, or neutral), and how many people went on to blog about the story.
Case studies from the guys included a humorous one from Todd where he created link bait for a private investigator client, by creating a new twist on an old topic, which was titled “The Cheating Spouse’s Guide to Cheating – What Every Guy Should Know.” (I couldn’t find this on Digg, sorry no link) The success came by attaining 250 new links to the site in a matter of days. And Neil, a pro on Digg, recently got 5,294 diggs for a story and pictures he submitted titled “The craziest urinals from around the world”. Hilarious post and a must see!